By Wale Adedayo
There is something wrong, and very wrong too, with strategists of the ruling All Progressives (APC) at the very top. Not all critics of President Muhammad Buhari are looters or friends of looters, contrary to their assertions. And I have a very strong feeling they know this too. It appears the strategy of Team Buhari is to keep the heat of name-calling on the opposition in order to starve off criticisms of their principal.
To me, those opposed to Buhari because their friends or political associates have been implicated in corruption cases are less than 10% of those currently involved in campaigns to vote him out. Majority of those in the current unorganized anti-Buhari campaign were deeply involved in bringing the president to office. And they have genuine reasons for going against him despite working for his success at the polls in 2015.
Quality strategists would have paused to ask questions. Buhari became president on the crest of a hope by many that things would change. Yes, former President Goodluck Jonathan looted the treasury silly. But the lootings by Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Sanni Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar were of Guinness Book of World Records proportions when compared with Jonathan’s.
Buhari and his associates have not mentioned these lootings once, despite the fact that Abacha’s loots are still being recovered several years after his death. If it is not abuses galore against the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today, it is Jonathan and his wife, Patience, being taken to the cleaners. To Buhari’s handlers, the false narrative that corruption started and ended with either PDP or Jonathan remains the major item.
Yet, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who got into office shortly after the lootings by IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalami initiated policies that are still being followed by successive presidents till date.
The Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme was initiated by Obasanjo barely six months of becoming president. It made education free and compulsory for Nigerian pupils up to JSS3. Obasanjo built Primary Health Care Centres in Nigeria’s 774 Local Governments with generating sets, well-equipped laboratories, boreholes and secured each building with a fence.
It was Obasanjo that brought EFCC and ICPC. He freed the Telecoms sector from Government monopoly thus allowing MTN and the rest into our world instead of the old NITEL. He made Nigeria proud on the international scene, where he also worked to secure our economy through debt forgiveness among others. He appeared well-prepared for his job, despite having just left prison.
APC strategists at the very top should know that unlike Obasanjo, our current President DID NOT improve himself or expose himself to modern ways of doing things after leaving office as military Head of State. Until he began seeking to occupy Ask Rock as a born again democrat, Buhari did not mix with others at either local or international conferences and seminars to exchange ideas or learn new ones.
Nigeria is not getting better. Majority of those feeling it are the lowest of the low, who by reason of the propaganda deployed during his campaign in 2015 should be his natural constituency. At the international level, we are becoming the butt of jokes, again. Nigerians being sold as slaves in Libya, may not have started under his watch. But it got worse under Buhari. Many have died in the waters of the Mediterranean while trying to become economic refugees in Europe.
Of course, our internal security situation has worsened under Buhari’s watch. It got closer home recently with the killings in Offa, Kwara State, where armed robbers killed many. A number of Buhari’s supporters hardly see humans among the Shiites killed in Zaria, the villagers of Zamfara or those killed on a regular basis in Benue State. They are just statistics to such Buharists. To make the security matter worse, Mr. President claimed in London that the killer herdsmen were trained by Libya. How inconsiderate by someone who should have been a credible C-IN-C?
Change, in a Third World country like ours, comes when key political actors suspend individual ambitions to rally round a figure, who on the AVERAGE has the ability to lift the polity away from the precipice. The figure so supported cannot be a saint, no doubt. To me, all saints are in heaven. Son of man has his many shortcomings too. So, one is not a saint.
In more ways than one, it was a similar process that brought Buhari to office. He had, and still has his shortcomings. But individual ambitions were shelved by others, who remained within the major opposition party to ensure that divided votes did not allow Jonathan to be returned to office.
Today, the situation is different. Both the serious and jesters are seeking the office of president. They are more than those who showed serious interest in the same office towards the 2015 presidential election.